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Cardinals' stadium plaza to be named for Tillman

4/27/2004

PHOENIX -- Arizonans are moving to honor Pat Tillman, the
former football star gave up his pro career to join the Army
Rangers.

Tillman, 27, was killed in combat Thursday in Afghanistan.

Arizona State University and the Arizona Cardinals announced the
establishment of an annual business school scholarship in Tillman's
name.

ASU athletic director Gene Smith also said the Sun Devils will
retire Tillman's No. 42 jersey after the 2004 season.

A memorial was set up outside the Cardinals' headquarters, with
his No. 40 jersey in a glass frame, and a giant poster with Tillman
on one knee, in uniform, on the Cardinals' sideline.

People brought flowers, teddy bears and balloons. One man in
uniform and kilt showed up to play "Amazing Grace" and "America
the Beautiful" on a bagpipe.

The Cardinals said they will retire Tillman's No. 40 and name
the plaza surrounding the new stadium under construction in
suburban Glendale the "Pat Tillman Freedom Plaza."

Vice president Michael Bidwill said the team was honored to have
been associated with Tillman and "his life is a lesson in virtue
to us all."

"Pat not only exemplified what it meant to be a scholar-athlete
as a member of the Sun Devil family, but also what it meant to be
an American," Smith said.

Meanwhile, as the university and the Cardinals posted tributes
to Tillman on their Web sites and Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano
ordered flags on the Arizona State campus flown at half-staff.

In Washington, one member of the state's congressional
delegation said he planned to organize a series of speeches on the
floor of the House of Representatives next week honoring Tillman.
Another said he would send a Gold Star Banner to Tillman's family.

Gold Star Banners have been a symbol since World War I honoring
soldiers killed in the line of duty.

"We honor his service and mourn his loss," said U.S. Rep. John
Shadegg, R-Ariz.

But a former legislator said he was leery about singling Tillman
out too much.

"The loss of his life is just as tragic as the loss of all the
other service men and women who have died," said ex-Sen. Tom
Smith, a retired Marine Corps lieutenant colonel who is serving on
a state commission working on a memorial to honor military
personnel killed in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"Their mothers and fathers feel the same anguish as the parents
of Pat Tillman," Smith added.

The Arizona Legislature is considering legislation to authorize
the memorial. Approved 29-0 by the Senate on Thursday, the measure
awaits expected House approval before going to Napolitano.

The memorial would be built with private funding in Wesley Bolin
Plaza across from the Capitol.

A state commission appointed by Napolitano is scheduled to meet
May 6 to pick a design from among two finalists. The governor's
approval also is required.

Napolitano led the push last year to have Squaw Peak in Phoenix
and the Squaw Peak Parkway, a state highway in Phoenix, renamed
after Army Pfc. Lori Piestewa, an Arizonan who was killed in combat
in Iraq. Piestewa was the first female Native American killed while
in combat for the U.S. Army.

Napolitano said Friday she didn't know what an appropriate
commemoration would be for Tillman, who had refused media requests
for interviews about his military service.

"Given the fact that he did this and didn't really want any
press about it and wanted just to do it as the right thing to do,
he probably would be the last person who would want all the press
attention paid to the fact that he gave his life in Afghanistan,"
she said.

Gubernatorial spokeswoman Paul Allvin said Napolitano hadn't
considered whether Tillman also should receive comparable
individual honors.

State Sen. Jim Waring, a Phoenix Republican who sponsored the
bill authorizing the planned memorial, said it's "probably way too
soon" to decide on honors for Tillman.

"Does he certainly rate having something named after him?
Absolutely," said Waring, adding that "there wouldn't be anything
that's fitting enough for what this guy did. The sacrifice that he
and his family made are really incredible."